Appeal rejected for Ison, who pleaded guilty to 5 killings

An Indiana appeals court has rejected the latest request by a man convicted of fatally shooting five people in southeastern Indiana in 2011 who sought to appeal his guilty pleas and sentence in those slayings.

In a ruling issued last week, the state Court of Appeals dismissed David Ison’s appeal of a trial court’s decision that denied him the opportunity to file a belated appeal of his guilty pleas and sentence, the Palladium-Item of Richmond reported. Ison, 54, had pleaded guilty in March 2012 to the five killings. He was sentenced to five life without parole sentences, and he’s serving that sentence at the Wabash Valley Correctional Center in Carlisle.

Ison was convicted of fatally shooting the five victims in September 2011 in and near a mobile home in rural Laurel, about 50 miles southeast of Indianapolis. Those killed were: Roy D. Napier, 50; Angela Napier, 47; Melissa L. Napier, 23; Jacob L. Napier, 18; and Henry X. Smith, 43.

A probable cause affidavit alleged the shootings were linked to Ison’s efforts to buy prescription painkillers.

Since his sentencing, Ison has repeatedly sought post-conviction relief and challenged his guilty pleas and sentence in court filings.

On Feb. 3, he petitioned the Franklin County trial court seeking to be allowed to pursue a belated appeal. Ison claimed, without documentation, that he had diligently sought to appeal the guilty pleas.

After the trial court denied that petition, he raised the issue with the appeals court. The state’s motion supporting the dismissal of Ison’s request argued that his petition was improper.

In last week’s ruling, the appeals court dismissed Ison’s request without explanation.

Ison has repeatedly argued in his requests for post-conviction relief that he was made to feel that he was eligible for the death penalty, when he actually was not.

Ison also has argued that he agreed to his plea deal in order to avoid the death sentence and contended that he was not aware that the judge should have considered aggravating and mitigating circumstances before pronouncing his sentence.

Ison has suggested that his drug use and history of mental illness around the time of the killings could have been mitigating factors.

In December 2019, Ison asked the state appeals court to allow him to seek post-conviction relief of his sentence. The court rejected that request in January, finding that his claims and documentation did not establish a reasonable possibility that he would be successful.

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